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Houston Institute for Culture and University of St Thomas Present

The World Matters Film Festival

April 1-10, 2008 - Free and Open to the Public

All films 7:00pm (unless otherwise noted)

University of St Thomas, Doherty Library [Building 22]
Yoakum Blvd and West Main Street; Additional Parking in Moran Center (Graustark and West Alabama)


Tuesday, April 1
We Feed the World   [Film Description]

Thursday, April 3
Kabul Transit   [Film Description]

Saturday, April 5
Lives for Sale   [Film Description]

Saturday, April 5
Intimidad   [Film Description]

Tuesday, April 8
Raised to be Heroes   [Film Description]

Tuesday, April 8
In Search of International Justice   [Film Description]

Thursday, April 10
China Blue   [Film Description]


We Feed the World
Tuesday, April 1, 7:00pm

Directed by Erwin Wagenhofer, US Release 2007, 96 minutes

We Feed the World Close to a billion of the nearly seven billion people on Earth are starving today. But the food we are currently producing could feed 12 billion people. This is a film about food and globalization, fishermen and farmers, the flow of goods and cash flow -- a film about scarcity amid plenty.

Why doesn't a tomato taste like a tomato today? How does one explain that 200 million people in India, supplier of 80% of Switzerland's wheat, suffer from malnutrition? Why are thousands of acres of the Amazon being cleared to grow soybeans? Is water something to which the public has a basic right or, as the CEO of the world's largest food company Nestle suggests, a foodstuff with a market value?

These distressing questions are addressed as filmmaker Erwin Wagenhofer travels from Austria to Brazil, France to Romania to interview Jean Ziegler, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, CEOs and directors of the world's largest food companies, agronomists, biologists, fishermen, farmers and farmworkers.

On a daily basis, in Vienna alone, enough left-over bread to supply a small city is destroyed. The planet has enough production power to feed everyone, but 800 million people suffer from hunger. What does world hunger have to do with us?

German with English subtitles.

Kabul Transit
Thursday, April 3, 7:00pm

Directed by David Edwards, Maliha Zulfacar and Gregory Whitmore, US Release 2007, 84 minutes

Kabul Transit "Kabul Transit" is a street-level documentary that explores the soul of a city devastated by nearly three decades of war.

In the broken cityscape of Kabul, Afghanistan, amid the dust and rubble of war, Westerners and Afghans adjust to the uncertain possibilities of peace. Kabul Transit shuttles through the broken streets of the city, moving between public space and private, listening in on conversations, posing questions, probing the darker alleys mainstream media avoids. The result is a unique cinematic experience - a shifting mosaic of encounters and raconteurs, captured glances and telling gestures, all beautifully shot and woven together by the music and the found sounds of a city sluggishly coming to life. Rejecting the usual device of narration and portraiture, the film asks the viewer to experience Kabul as a newly arrived visitor would - with a freshness born of apprehension on finding oneself in a place that is at once hauntingly strange and altogether familiar.

English subtitles.

Lives for Sale
Saturday, April 5, 7:00pm

Directed by Gayla Jamison, US Release 2006, 58 minutes

While politicians, activists and the media wrestle with the thorny issue of immigration, the investigative documentary "Lives for Sale" exposes the painful, rarely seen human side of undocumented immigration -- including the growing black market trade in human beings.

Each year more than one million people attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, most of them from Mexico and Central America, desperately seeking the American Dream. Their journey is filled with dangers that prey on their hopes and exploit their inexperience. Some will give their life savings to coyotes, mercenary agents promising safe passage; others will unknowingly become one of the almost 20,000 victims of human trafficking that cross our borders each year, finding themselves sold as modern-day slaves. And as our government further militarizes our borders with Mexico, the result is that the journey towards the Dream becomes even more perilous.

In "Lives for Sale", we meet many of those willing to leave behind all they know to escape devastating poverty in search of a better life, including Yanori Ramirez, an immigrant from Honduras, where 79% of people live in poverty. Like many making the arduous trek to the States, she travels from southern Mexico by freight train to the U.S. border. The journey takes three days and nights; some will be robbed or killed or raped or injured in falls from the train. It's a price these immigrants are willing to pay.

Saturday, April 5, 8:00pm

Directed by Ashley Sabin and David Redmon, US Release 2008, 73 minutes

Intimidad Cecy and Camilo ages 21 recently migrated to Reynosa, Mexico from Santa Maria, Puebla with a dream to buy land and build a home. One year later they return to Puebla during Christmas vacation to reunite with their daughter. What seems like a satisfying reunion and temporary relief from the harsh environment of Reynosa turns into a confusing dilemma between Cecy and Camilo. The conflict threatens to transform the course of their lives and suspend efforts to improve their living conditions, thereby further straining the family's ability to live together. Intimidad challenges viewers to understand Cecy and Camilo as people first and interpret their complex lives through a simple story. Intimidad was filmed over the course of 4 years and mixes digital verite with Super 8 and 16mm film stock.

Raised to be Heroes
Tuesday, April 8, 7:00pm

Directed by Jack Silberman, US Release 2007, 54 minutes

Raised to be Heroes They will fight for their country, they will die for their country, but not in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And although they act on conscience, they pay a steep personal price. Featuring haunting accounts from the front lines, "Raised to Be Heroes" introduces the latest generation of Israeli soldiers to selectively object to military operations undertaken by their country.

After years of executing missions against the Palestinians, often involving violence and oppression, some soldiers now believe their country's actions are inhumane. They're confronted with an excruciating dilemma: do they obey orders and continue a cycle of aggression and revenge? Or do they refuse to serve, risking vehement backlash and condemnation from family, friends and society? Through a series of raw and emotional testimonies, a group of Refuseniks lay bare the moment that they finally, and courageously, drew the line.

Their gripping stories are intertwined with that of Matan Kaminer, one of five high school seniors that together refused to enlist in the army because they believe Israel's actions in the Territories are wrong. Awaiting trial, Kaminer reflects on his controversial decision and the consequences he faces.

There are more than 1,600 Refuseniks in Israel and this number is growing. Many Israelis condemn them for failing their nation; however, they stand by their conscience in the hopes of ending the occupation. "The time I spent in jail was the most important time I served for my country; for my friends in my unit, for my family, for the security of Israel," says Major Chen Alon. Capturing a moment in the ever-changing political landscape of the region, "Raised to Be Heroes" uses the unforgettable experiences of Refuseniks to inspire an essential dialogue about peace, democracy and personal responsibility.

In Search of International Justice
Tuesday, April 8, 8:00pm

Directed by Judy Jackson, US Release 2006, 66 minutes

In Search of International Justice This is the first film about a crucial new commitment to the International Rule of Law - so victims will no long suffer without being heard, and war criminals will be punished.

Sixty years ago, with the Nuremberg charter, the world first said "Never Again." But these proved empty words for the victims of the Cold War years. The Superpowers couldn't agree on a universal code to punish war criminals. Tyrants ruled with impunity.

So the voices of their victims have echoed down through the decades, refusing to be silent, even in death. Joined by relatives who are unable to move on, until they know how their loved ones died. Different languages from different places, but with the same universal theme - begging to be delivered from the torment of living somewhere between life and death. Telling us that they will be able, finally, to rest, when we find out how they died. Insisting we listen.

It is because of these voices that International Justice has been reborn. In 2002 the International Criminal Court was established in The Hague. So far 100 countries have signed on to the Court's mandate. However, the world's remaining superpower, the United States is strongly opposed.

The new Court is already busy. It is investigating crimes against humanity in Darfur. It has issued indictments against leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army in Northern Uganda who abduct children and force them to fight. And a militia leader from the Democratic Republic of the Congo faces charges of recruiting children as young as 8 to fight for him.

For the first time war criminals are being forced to listen. The victims' voices now haunt them, telling them they will not be silent until justice is done.

Filmed in: Kosovo, Northern Uganda, Iraq, Rwanda and Darfur.

China Blue
Thursday, April 10, 7:00pm

Directed by Micha X. Peled, US Release 2006, 88 minutes

China Blue Like no other film before, "China Blue" is a powerful and poignant journey into the harsh world of sweatshop workers. Shot clandestinely, this is a deep-access account of what both China and the international retailers don't want us to see: how the clothes we buy are actually made.

Following a pair of denim jeans from birth to sale, "China Blue" links the power of the U.S. consumer market to the daily lives of a Chinese factory owner and two teenaged female factory workers. Filmed both in the factory and in the workers' faraway village, this documentary provides a rare, human glimpse at China's rapid transformation into a free market society.

"China Blue" received the PBS 2007 Independent Lens Audience Award.

English subtitles.

Presented with support of University of St. Thomas and the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.

The World Matters Film Festival is touring Texas. If you would like more information about how you can bring this festival to your town, please contact info@houstonculture.org.


China Blue, Cullen Performance Hall
Argentina - Hope in Hard Times (June 2007)
The Community Solution: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil, Havens Center
Independent Intervention, Havens Center
Radically Simple, Havens Center
Spring 2007 at Havens Center
Fall 2006 at Havens Center
World Cultures, University of St. Thomas
Baker Institute, Rice University
Bauer College of Business, University of Houston
Argentina - Hope in Hard Times (Feb. 2006)
Altar for Emma Tenayuca Film Series
Argentina - Hope in Hard Times (Feb. 2005)
More Past Films

Houston Institute for Culture is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting cultural education and awareness through cultural activities. Our goal is to provide free and low-cost events, services and classes for the community. The organization's sphere of interest is Houston, the regions that have affected Houston's cultural history and the international origins of Houston's diverse population.

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